“Hurrah for the Pumpkin Pie”

It’s Pumpkin time!! By the 1800’s, pumpkin pie was a necessity at most Thanksgiving celebrations. If you have ever heard the famous poem about Thanksgiving by Lydia Maria Child in 1842:

“Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather’s house we go” ends with “Hurrah for the pumpkin pie”.

Northeastern Indians used squash more than other Indians in early America and did favor pumpkin the most. They baked them by putting them in the embers of a fire, then moistened them with maple syrup or honey or some type of fat and then turned it into a soup. In 1705, the town of Colchester, Connecticut postponed the holiday for a week due to a molasses shortage to make the pies.

The first known American cookbook was American Cookery by Amelia Simmons in 1796 that included a recipe for “pompkin” pie. Later in 1805, a recipe for pumpkin pie appeared in the Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple by Mrs. Hannah Glasse.

“Take the pumpkin and peel the rind off, then stew it till is quite soft and put thereto one pint of pumpkin, one pint of milk, one glass of malaga wine one glass of rose-water, if you like, seven eggs, half a pound of fresh butter, one small nutmeg, and sugar and salt to your taste:”

In 1929, Libby’s meat-canning industry made pumpkin preparation easier by offering its famous canned pumpkin with its traditional recipe on the label. My mother would have appreciated the Libby’s version. I remember her talking about making her first pumpkin pie and neglecting to strain the stringy pulp from the pumpkin itself. Next time you open a can, please think kindly of her and in her day, there may not have been canned pumpkin. Her first pie was probably around 1924.

The only problem is the sugar content found in pies – as for my pumpkin disaster, I forgot the sugar one year and it was awful. But who is counting sugar grams on Thanksgiving?  For the few that are – 1 serving has 253 cals, 3 grams of fiber, 32 grams of carbohydrate and about 19.7 grams of sugar (5 tsp). Pumpkin is also loaded with vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene (a powerful antioxidant). Happy Holiday!!!

Sally Feltner, www.foodfactsandfads.com

In Flanders Fields: Thank you for your service.

John McCrae

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae was first published in England’s Punch magazine in December 1915 . Within months, this poem came to symbolize the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, the poem continues to be a part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada and other countries throughout the world.

For some reason, I have remembered this great tribute and we thank all our veterans for their service.

“Flanders Fields ” is a poem about remembrance, a call for those living to not forget the dead who are buried in a foreign land. It demands that the living remember why the fallen died, so that they did not die in vain. Thus, it became one of the most famous poems of the First World War.”

In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, a 1919 collection of McCrae’s works, contains two versions of the poem: a printed text as below and a handwritten copy where the first line ends with “grow” instead of “blow”, as discussed under Publication:[9] Wikipedia

                 In Flanders Fields
    In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
         Between the crosses, row on row,
       That mark our place; and in the sky
       The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
       Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
                              In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
       The torch; be yours to hold it high.
       If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
                                In Flanders fields.

Diet and Aging

“Most of us have more control over how long we live than we think. In fact, experts say that if we adopted the right lifestyle, we could add a good 10 years and suffer a fraction of the diseases that kill us prematurely.”

In his book, the Blue Zones, 9 Lessons for Living Longer, Dan Buettner and his team from the National Institute of Health set out to visit 5 regions on our globe that had a long record of longevity. From those lessons, a balanced diet became paramount in life extension. Here is what Robert Kane, MD, director of the Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis said:

“One of the goals to a healthy lifestyle is moderation in all things. The best diet is basically one of moderation. You hear about all these people that live on legumes and plant foods and that’s probably okay, but I don’t think it’s necessary… as far as meat, it’s a question of eating meat a couple of times a week or are you eating it every day for two meals a day (typical of the Standard American Diet).  Are you eating processed meats that are filled with fat? Or are you eating good cuts of fairly lean meat?”

In Okinawa (one of the Blue Zones) “while centenarian Okinawans do eat some pork, it is traditionally reserved only for infrequent occasions and taken only in small amounts.”
 

Reference: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. Dan Buettner, 2012.

CLICK HERE. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is-your-diet-aging-you#1

How Diet Affects the Brain

“Poor diets lead to a host of medical issues: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. But diet also influences the brain and can increase the risk for mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers are uncovering the details of how the foods we consume affect our cravings, our moods, and even our memories.”

We hear so much these days about omega 3-rich fish oils as well as omega-6 rich oils. Today we consume ten to 20 times more omega-6 fats and have dramatically reduced our intake of omega-3 fats. This goes against our hunter-gatherer evolutionary history of a 1:1 ratio. Recent research indicates that people who regularly consumed omega-3-rich oils such as flax seed, olive and walnut oils were 60 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who did not regularly consume such oils. Y. Zhang, et al. “Intakes of Fish and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Milk-to-Severe Cognitive Impairment Risks…. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71, no.2 (2016):330-40.

CLICK HERE.

Healthy Lifestyles and Longevity

Highlights from Healthy Habits can lengthen life.

Researchers found that people who maintained five healthy lifestyle factors lived more than a decade longer than those who didn’t maintain any of the five.

Americans don’t live as long as people in most other high-income countries.

Study led by Frank Hu at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 78,000 women and 44,000 men who participated in two nationwide surveys (Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study,)

Study was funded by NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and National Cancer Institute and published in Circulation on April 30, 2018.

Data identified five different low-risk lifestyle factors and compared health outcomes for those who adopted all five with those who didn’t adopt any.

The factors:

1. Maintaining a healthy eating pattern (like the Mediterranean Diet)

Recommended daily amounts of vegetables fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids.  

Limiting red and processed meats, moderately.

Limiting beverages with added sugar, trans fats, and sodium

2. Moderate drinking

3.  Not smoking

4.  Getting at least 3.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week 

5. Maintaining a normal weight (18.5 to 24.9) BMI

Each participant’s medical history: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, age at death (when applicable).

Results:

At age 50, women who did not adopt any of the five healthy habits were estimated to live on average until they were 79 years old and men until they were 75.5 years.

 In contrast, women who adopted all five healthy habits lived to 91.1 years and men lived to 87.6 years.

Independently, each healthy lifestyle factor significantly lowered the risk of total death, death from cancer, and death from heart disease.

Note: Epigenetics: With its prefix from the Greek word epi, which means “addition to,” this word relates to factors in addition to DNA base sequence that influence the function of genes.

Please search “Epigenetics” on this blog for more information.

Source:

Tianna Hicklin, PhD. Healthy habits can lengthen life. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Diet and Inflammation

By Sally J. Feltner, MS, PhD

A lot of recent attention has been paid to the role of lifestyle in many chronic diseases (lately referred to as underlying causes of mortality in the Covid-19 viral pandemic).  Deaths due to this virus have been strongly associated with age, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes to name a few. Many people with the viral infection have reported to have had at least one or two of these chronic conditions. Obesity alone has been known to be associated with low-grade inflammation.  

Recently, we have changed our ideas about diet and heart disease.  Many doctors still think the high fat, high cholesterol diet of the last decade was to blame.  However, this is a simplified view that dismisses the research that now supports the possibility that heart disease is mediated by other biological events other than cholesterol, including oxidative stress (free radicals), insulin sensitivity, endothelial dysfunction and blood clotting mechanisms and most importantly low-grade inflammation.

(FYI – endothelium is the tissue which forms a single layer of cells lining various organs and cavities of the body, especially the blood vessels, heart, and lymphatic vessels.)

We should be aware that inflammation is a double-edged sword. Inflammation in the body is necessary to protect us from infections and cancer and when appropriate from diseases. In its acute state as when you cut your finger, its reactions are self-limiting and resolve rapidly; the process is meant to heal and repair tissue damage.  However, when inflammation is inappropriate it can get out of hand and contribute to disease especially chronic diseases. That is when inflammation can become your enemy.  We call this low-grade inflammation. In this type, the inflammatory response needs be controlled or managed or at least short lived. Should it continue, persisting cytokines of the immune system can produce excessive damage, leading to a number of diseases.

(FYI cytokines are small protein chemical messengers used by immune defensive cells that affect other cells and the immune response to an infectious agent.

It is thought that accumulating degrees of oxidative stress, and low-grade inflammation can result in what is now commonly called the “cytokine storm.” Septic shock can result from a cytokine abundance, leading to death.

Recently, it is thought that positive dietary choices you can make can help to reduce low grade inflammation and prevent this process. Your inflammatory biomarker status can be measured by a simple blood test. The most used is one called high sensitivity C-Reactive protein (hsCRP).

The goal of this blog post is to guide us to the right anti-inflammatory foods to reduce our risk of illness. Consistently, pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

Foods that allegedly promote inflammation – try to limit these foods as much as possible:

Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries; choose whole grains instead.

French fries and other fried foods

Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages

Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hog dogs, sausage)

Margarine, shortening, lard (high levels of trans fatty acids)

Foods that allegedly reduce inflammation –   include in the diet as much as possible

Tomatoes rich in lycopene and carotenoids – healthy phytochemicals

Olive oil – rich in monounsaturated fat and phytochemicals

Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard and other greens – a randomized German study showed that 8 servings of fruits and vegetables for 4 weeks in men had lower levels of hsCRP.

Nuts like almonds and walnuts – high in monounsaturated fats

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines – Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduced inflammation.

Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

Fiber consumption was associated with less inflammation in seven studies, using hsCRP as a biomarker.

Bottom Line:

No one food can be the “magic bullet” for good health. A Mediterranean diet is a good example of a diet that reduces low-grade inflammation and at the same time appears to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is a diet pattern that has been studied extensively and without a doubt scores high in the healthy column.

Alert: Meat, coffee and chocolate?

Nearly 50% of food influencers are actively seeking more plant-based options. Major retailers are asking their suppliers for more plant-based products for their shelves and restaurants that have added vegan options to menus have seen an increase in business while the competition has struggled. These are all signs that point to plant-based being more than just a trend. It is a blossoming cultural movement and we are still in the earliest stages!”

Reference: Plant-based World Newsletter, 2021

CLICK HERE.

Has anyone noticed the emphasis on plant-based food in the food magazines lately? Interesting!! Just saying – stay tuned. SJF (my opinion).